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Title:The rhetorical construction of science: Demarcation as rhetorical practice
Author(s):Taylor, Charles Alan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wenzel, Joseph W.
Department / Program:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Speech Communication
History of Science
Abstract:Since the rise of science, scholars have struggled to identify the unique and essential characteristics which demarcate science from other intellectual activities. This dissertation develops a view of demarcation as a practical matter which is rhetorically negotiated by scientists in ongoing scientific activity. The rhetorical demarcation of science is a discursive accomplishment of the everyday productive and evaluative activities of scientists.
This view of demarcation is based on several commitments regarding the nature of science. First, science is one among many sets of social practices. Second, as with all rational enterprises, scientific practice is organized by particular interests: personal, cognitive, technical, professional, etc. Third, scientists' understanding of the boundaries of their social world is socially constructed in and through discourse, particularly in situations in which those interests are challenged. Scientists, consciously or otherwise, rhetorically construct operative definitions of science which serve to exclude what they take to be non-sciences or pseudo-sciences in order to enhance their own relative cognitive authority and/or to maintain a variety of professional resources. This study also argues that demarcation is accomplished when competing research communities within orthodox science construct working definitions of appropriate science in order to advance proprietary interests over particular research domains and/or control of limited material resources.
The development of this theoretical position required a rhetorical reconstruction of previous approaches to demarcation issues. Acknowledging that distinctly different questions about demarcation have been posed in the philosophy and sociology of science, it was useful to mine these discussions for heuristics helpful in crating a rhetorical approach.
The theoretical and critical utility of a rhetorical approach to demarcation was demonstrated in two case studies: the recent controversy surrounding "scientific creationism" and the dispute regarding the alleged discovery of "cold fusion" in 1989. These two case studies reveal the interest-oriented deployment of demarcation rhetoric in widely disparate rhetorical contexts.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Taylor, Charles Alan
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114434
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114434

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